In a world that is increasingly interdependent, we can no longer afford to remain monolingual. Success depends in large measure on the ability of an individual to function as a member of a global village whose members speak a variety of languages. Learning world languages is no longer a pastime: it is a necessity. How does learning a world language help you to meet today’s challenges?
The Study of a World Language
- helps you to expand your view of the world
- encourages critical reflection on the relation between language and culture, language and thought
- expands your opportunities for meaningful leisure activities (such as travel, viewing foreign language films, watching foreign TV programs)
- develops your intellect (encouraging good learning habits, memorization, combining course content and skills in a meaningful way)
- improves knowledge of the native language (through comparison and contrast with the foreign language)
- exposes you to modes of thought and viewpoints that are available only in the foreign language and its culture
- helps to build practical skills that may be used in other disciplines
- fosters your understanding of the interrelation between language and human nature
- teaches and encourages respect for other ethnic groups
- contributes to the development of your personality
- contributes to the achievement of national goals, such as economic development or national security
- increases your sense of self worth. Speaking Italian or Spanish to your grandmother or ordering in French at a French restaurant will do wonders for your ego!
A Foreign Language Opens Up Job Opportunities for You
In the routine performance of their jobs, many people are called upon to use their world language skills. In large metropolitan areas such as New York, knowing a world language seems almost an essential aspect of urban living. Many jobs require knowledge of at least one world language. Some of the most important include:
The U.S. Government
·The United States Government employs Americans who have world language skills on a regular basis. The Internal Revenue Service hires people with world language skills to handle routine investigations, audits, and communications with United States nationals who speak a world language. Other agencies and departments such as the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, the DEA, and the US Armed Services, to name a few, make ample use of people with world language skills.
American and International Business
Knowing a world language is an important asset for many foreign companies doing business in the US and for US-based international companies. Business leaders know that the ability to communicate with others in their own language is essential in marketing American products abroad.
The study of World Languages is increasing and the need for teachers will grow accordingly. World languages are taught in Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools, in the Universities, and in private schools.
In Public Relations
Knowing world languages and their cultures can make the difference between success and failure. The Chevy Nova failed in Latin America because the marketer did not realize that No va in Spanish means “It does not run.”
In Social Services
The social services deal with so many diverse groups that not knowing world languages can and in many cases does hamper their ability to serve the public adequately.
The same thing can be said for Health Care, Police Enforcement, and the Courts. The ability to communicate with non-English speaking Americans can often make a difference between life and death
“An Overseas Stint Can Be a Ticket to the Top”
Many US multinational companies long trumpeted the importance of overseas assignments for middle managers. But these days, even the executive suite is going global. With nearly every industry targeting fast-growing foreign markets, more companies are requiring foreign experience for top management positions.
The Wall Street Journal, January 29, 1996
Instructional Coordinator for Social Studies & World Languages
Henry County Schools